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Gongkar Choede Monastery


In the middle of the fifteenth century the Tantric master Dorjedenpa Kunga Namgyal (1432-1496) founded the monastery of Gongkar Choede or Gongkar Dorjeden in today’s Lhoka prefecture (Chi. Shannan) of Central Tibet about 50 km south of Lhasa. The practice tradition that became established from his activities is commonly referred to as Dzongpa, a sub-sect within the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism.


When the Chinese occupied Tibet in the 1950s and 100,000 Tibetans fled into exile, the religious tradition of Gongkar Choede came to an abrupt end.  Over three decades later, in 1985, a group of committed ex-monks who had been expelled from the monastery regained their property from the Chinese authorities. Under the religious restrictions imposed by the Communist government, they restored the half-destroyed site, re-established a small community and some degree of monastic life at Gongkar Choede.


Ten years later, in the 1990s, a group of Gongkar monks gathered in Northern India. They had previously fled to India to obtain proper religious education and also to search for their chief spiritual leader, the reincarnation of the previous Gongkar Dorjedenpa tulku. With his discovery and installment as the 6th throne holder of the Dzongpas plus other young monks from Gongkar Choede having arrived in India to join the group, the number of Gongkar Choede monks in India increased to around 55.


A few years later, in 2003, the monks completed the construction of their monastery at the Tibetan Settlement of Laldang, some 45 km north-west of Dehradun.  This monastery, also named Gongkar Choede, serves as a residence for their lama and a subsidiary seat for the Dzongpas in India. From then on the senior monks started to teach the new generation of monks who are to carry on the teaching tradition of Kunga Namgyal that is fading away under the harsh circumstances in occupied Tibet.
At present there are around 90 resident monks at Gongkar Choede in India, among them many refugees from Tibet and an increasing number of young monks from less privileged regions of the Himalaya. The monastery has reached a stage where it is able of offer the young monks a firm training in prayer recitation, chanting, ritual performance and the memorization of traditional scriptures. Advanced students are able to carry out scholastic studies in Buddhist ethics, logic, philosophy and debate.


Gongkar Tsedrup Lhakhang

Gongkar  Tsedrup Lhakhang is dedicated to the longevity of H.H the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H the Sakya Trizin. It is situated about 4 kms from the main Gongkar Choede on one and a half acres of land which was offered to the monastery by the Tibetan Community of Lakhanwala.


Gongkar Tsedrup Lhakhang is a long-life temple for the practice of White Tara in the form of ‘the Wish-fulfilling Wheel’ (Drolkar Yishin Khorlo), Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) and the Protector ‘Brahmin Mahakala’ (Palgon Dramse).


The Tsedrup Lhakhang maintains practices which began in Tibet during the time of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and continued until 1959. The White Tara practice was performed by eight Gongkar Choede monks for the long life of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the long-life temple (Zhol Tsedrub Lhakhang) which is situated beneath the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The monks performed the Chenrezig rituals in the Jokhang (Tsuklakhang) and the practice of Brahmin Mahakala took place in the protector temple within the Meru Nyingpa Temple complex, behind the Jokhang.


Keeping up these traditions, eight monks perform the rituals and practices of White Tara, Chenrezig and Brahmin Mahakala in the Gongkar Tsedrub Lhakhang. Gongkar Tsedrup Lhakhang also provides religious services for the local Tibetan community of Lakhanwala.